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SUMO: Most Popular Rikishi 3–1

Time to wrap up the Most Popular Rikishi Show posts. Quite a surprise last time that Hakuho ended up at #4 . . . at least it was a surprise to me. I expected him to be top three. In fact, I was SURE that I knew who the top three would be (I even felt pretty confident about the order), but I guess I don’t know my Japanese sumo fans the way I thought.

Anyway, I DO feel pretty confident that I know who these top three will be (based on who hasn’t yet been on the countdown)—one from the ’60s, one from the ’80s, and one from the ’90s—the only question will be in what order they’ll come.

Only one way to find out . . . let’s watch the video!

Again, a BIG thanks to Jason Harris for all the time and effort he puts in posting sumo videos. If you enjoyed this series or enjoy his hon-basho videos, please consider putting a buck or two into his PayPal Tip Jar.

SUMO: Most Popular Rikishi 7–4

Here’s the sixth segment of the Most Popular Rikish Show. TWO of our current yokozuna are included in this batch, but the real thing I want to talk about is the rikishi in the #7 spot—Asashoryu.

If you listen to Jason’s narration, and look at the faces of the celebrities on screen, you may note a bit of hesitance or conflictedness. That’s because as great as Asashoryu was (his performance makes that undeniable), he also is a problematic figure in sumo history. He’s the only yokozuna ever to be suspended for “conduct unbecoming to a champion” and was eventually forced to resign because he was alleged to be involved in match fixing and barely escaped being charged with assault for an incident outside a Tokyo nightclub. Basically, even today people aren’t sure whether it’s okay to embrace Asashoryu’s performance on the dohyo because he was such a miserable person off it. 

SUMO: Most Popular Rikishi 10–8

As the Most Popular Rikishi Show rolls into the top ten, they begin spending more time looking at each individual rikishi. So while this video is still about 15 minutes long, it only covers three rikishi. 

The first one is my second-favorite, and someone that fans of Ura or Ishiura would do well to look up. (He’s also still around as one of the NHK announcers.) And the final one is the man who, until Hakuho, was pretty much the undisputed greatest yokozuna of all-time.


SUMO: Most Popular Rikishi 14–11

Welcome to segment four of the Most Popular Rikishi Show. This batch is mostly filled with rikishi I knew nothing about, except for one of the major yokozuna from the ’90s. Lots of old footage and chances to see what sumo looked like in another era. 


JAPANESE TV ADS: Many Kinds of Tea

Another bonus set of commercials (the heat just brings out the wackiness on Japanese TV). Lots of summertime fun including:

• Fireworks and matsuri festivals . . . now THAT’S what summer in Japan is all about!
• A chance to see what the Calpis drinkers are doing while the Pocari Sweat kids are dancing their way around the country.
• The favorite candy for Minions.
• The many kinds of tea there are . . . and the one kind you can’t talk about on TV.

SUMO: Most Popular Rikishi 19–15

Segment three of the Most Popular Rikishi Show is chock full of familiar faces. This five-pack includes:

• TWO current rikishi
• Another American great from the ’90s
• And MY all-time favorite rikishi . . . the guy I would have voted for if I’d been included in the poll. (For your edification, he’s ranked at #15 and is the final rikishi presented in this video.

Enjoy! Oh, and remember that if you ARE enjoying these, you might want to swing by Jason Harris’s PayPal Tip Jar and drop in a buck or two.

SUMO: Most Popular Rikishi 25–20

Here we go with segment two of the Most Popular Rikishi Show. Half of the rikishi in this video are ones whose names I knew, but that I’d never seen perform (even in flashback videos), so I found it fascinating to get this insight into “classic” rikishi and have at least a LITTLE idea of what their sumo was like. 

The other half include one of our current yokozuna, and two very famous ozeki that I watched in the ’90s. I’m really enjoying this program, and I hope you are, too. 

More tomorrow!

SUMO: Most Popular Rikishi 30–26

The dog days of summer are tough on sumo fans. We’re smack dab in the middle of the doldrums between the end of the Nagoya Basho and the Aki Basho. The banzuke [ranking sheet] for September’s tournament won’t even be released until Labor Day. If you live in Japan, there’s at least a CHANCE that the jungyo [exhibition tour] might come to a town near you. Other than that, there’s just no sumo to be had.

But into that dark abyss comes a program that aired recently on one of Japan’s commercial TV channels. The producers polled a large group of sumo fans asking them “Who is your all-time favorite sumotori?” and then put together a program that counted down the top 30. This isn’t official Kyokai [Sumo Association] rankings … just a poll, so it would likely not have come across my radar at all. But Jason Harris (whose YouTube channel is one of my favorite sources for basho coverage) recorded the show and has been posting it in roughly 15-minute segments. 

I’ll post them here, sumo fans’ convenience . . . but really Jason is the hero of the day. He does this, like his basho coverage, out of his love of the sport and as a service to sumo fans around the world. He does, however, have a PayPal tip jar so that people can show their appreciation (he recently used the tip jar money to upgrade his recording equipment, and it really shows in the quality of the vids he produces).

It’s an interesting show. Jason narrates enough so you can understand what’s being shown, but mostly you get to see clips of the most popular rikishi of all-time (including some current favorites). I’ll post one video a day over the coming week. Enjoy!

This clip includes one face that will be very familiar to anyone who has been watching recent basho . . . and one of the American rikishi I used to watch back in the ’90s


Another set of inexplicable TV commercials fresh off the Japanese summer airwaves. For some reason, this batch seems even MORE inexplicable than usual.

• The tragic aria of the toilet germs.
• Look … I have no idea what the “All For Fun” commercial is for … but as a cartoonist, I WANT it!
• Peach Boy sees a cosmic peach.
• VR Zone Shinjuku … I wanna go! 


Thought you had to wait two weeks for more wacky Japanese commercials? No! There’s such a rush of summertime advertising that the channel has given us a BONUS edition! This time featuring such warm weather fun as:

• The classic summertime romance allure of malt liquor and cold seafood salad!
• Funky forklift choreography.
• Who IS Yanmar?!?
• The most honest pachinko commercial ever (it basically indicates that you’ll lose half of everything you’ve got … which apparently isn’t so bad if you’re a beautiful young model).
• Instant cold milk soup mix . . . ’nuff said!